Green Home GuideAs a Green home builder, Mark Johnson Custom Homes understands the importance of utilizing eco-friendly options for your home. When we built our Energy Star Certified home in the Landfall community in Wilmington, NC, we worked with the U.S. Green Building Council to ensure it would also be LEED Certified Platinum, the highest certification level attainable from the USGBC. The U.S. Green Building Council also publishes the Green Home Guide, an online resource for homeowners looking to build, remodel or retrofit their home with “Green” options in mind. And because this is such an invaluable resource, we’d like to share an article from the Green Home Guide’s article entitled “Take Steps toward a Poison-Free, Natural Lawn”. Below are just a few easy tips to ensure your lawn is Green-friendly and to read the complete article, simply click here!

Altering when and how you water your lawn is one of the easiest adjustments one can make to maintain a healthy, eco-friendly home. Watering between 5-10:00am is best and if you use an irrigation controller and the water is not soaking in, adjust your controller to water twice a day in shorter periods.

Proper maintenance of your irrigation system will also help save you time and money. Check for leaks in the system at least once a month during the dry season to ensure leaks will not waste water. Also add an automatic shut-off for days when it rains. And in lieu of spraying herbicides to kill weeds, hand pull them or dig them out.

Courtesy of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Home Guide
The Mark Johnson Custom Homes team is excited to announce that we have broken ground on our second ICF (Insulated Concrete Form) home!  The home, located in Currie, NC will be completed in 3 months. The first home we built with ICF’s resulted in an amazingly eco-friendly home that is Energy Star Certified and was also North Carolina’s second LEED Platinum home (the highest attainable rating from the U.S. Green Building Council).
You may be wondering, “What are ICF’s?”
ICF Home in Currie, NCICFs are formwork for concrete that stays in place as permanent building insulation for energy-efficient, cast-in-place, reinforced concrete walls, floors, and roofs. The forms are interlocking modular units that are dry-stacked (without mortar) and filled with concrete. The forms lock together somewhat like Lego bricks and serve to create a form for the structural walls or floors of a building. Concrete is pumped into the cavity to form the structural element of the walls. Usually reinforcing steel (rebar) is added before concrete placement to give the concrete flexural strength, similar to bridges and high-rise buildings made of concrete. The forms are filled with concrete in 1-4 foot “lifts” to reduce the risk of blowouts like with other concrete formwork. After the concrete has cured, or firmed up, the forms are left in place permanently.
Why Build with ICF’s?
ICF Home in North CarolinaThere are many, many reasons for opting to build with ICF’s, especially in our area of Southeastern North Carolina, where we can sometimes have an active hurricane season. The structural integrity of the home has a stronger resistance to the forces of nature compared to framed walls and ICF’s create a structural concrete wall (either monolithic or post and beam) that is up to 10 times stronger than wood framed structures. There are minimal, if any, air leaks, which improves comfort and less heat loss compared to walls without an air barrier and reduce HVAC operating coasts from 30-70%. There is also a high sound absorption, which helps produce peace and quiet compared to framed walls. 

Mark Johnson Custom Homes uses LOGIX forms which are made of thicker foam. Thick LOGIX panels provide superior R-24 R-Value and additional strength so you can build straight walls quickly. LOGIX panels also accept standard electrical boxes.

2010 Parade of Homes

April 22nd, 2010

You’re Invited!

Waterford of the Carolinas

1010 Natural Springs Way

Leland, NC

April 24 & 25, May 1 & 2

12pm – 5pm 

Normally, you just feel the effects of GREEN building in comfort and lower energy bills. This year, at the Parade of Homes, you will be able to see some of the components that make up an Energy Star home. 

Brunswick County, NC new home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes invites you to join us at the home in Waterford of the Carolinas, where we will take you “Behind the Walls”. It has intentionally been left in the construction phase to illustrate the Energy Star framing requirements. Other features on display will be an eighteen hundred gallon underground cistern for gathering rain water, and a completely underground drip irrigation system that uses up to 70% less water to maintain than the same size lawn using sprinklers.

The Amberview

2289 Square Feet

1010 Natural Springs Way

Leland, NC

Waterford of the Carolinas

Brunswick County

Directions from Wilmington:                                                                                                                                                                                Head south on S 3rd St/US-17-BR toward Dock St.
Turn right at US-17-BR S/US-421 N/US-76 W.
Continue to follow US-76 W.
Merge onto Ocean Hwy E/US-17 S via the ramp to Myrtle Beach/Shallotte.
Turn right onto Olde Waterford Way.                                                                                                                                                               
Turn left onto Palm Ridge Dr.                                                                                                                                                                                    Enter next roundabout and take 1st exit onto Royal Palm Way.                                                                                                         Enter next roundabout and take 1st exit onto Reserve Drive.                                                                                            Turn left onto Natural Springs Way.                                                                                                                                                                 1010 Natural Springs Way is on the right.

We look forward to seing you!  

For information on all of these Energy Star and GREEN Building features, visit our website at and be sure to experience it for yourself during our Parade of Homes presentations.

2010 Parade of Homes

April 24 & 25, May 1 & 2

12:00pm – 5:00pm

Have you ever wondered what components make an Energy Star home? All new homes look great from the outside, but to make sure your next new home is truely energy efficient, it’s important to look “behind the walls”. Homes that earn the Energy Star include “must have” features that will make you more comfortable, reduce utility bills, and help protect the environment.
Brunswick County, NC new home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes invites you to join us in Waterford of the Carolinas to see behind the walls of an Energy Star home that is 29% more efficient than a minimum code home. Highlights of the home designed by Sullivan Design Company include:
  • 1800 Gallon Underground Cistern
  • Invisible Drip Irrigation
  • Radiant Barrier Roof Sheathing
  • Blown Cellulose Walls
  • Daylighting from Skylight Tube
Lot 14
2289 Square Feet
The Amberview
1010 Natural Springs Way
Leland, NC
Waterford of the Carolinas
Brunswick County
Directions from Wilmington:
Head south on S 3rd St/US-17-BR toward Dock St.
Turn right at US-17-BR S/US-421 N/US-76 W.
Continue to follow US-76 W.
Merge onto Ocean Hwy E/US-17 S via the ramp to Myrtle Beach/Shallotte.
Turn right at Olde Waterford Way.
Turn slight left toward Palm Ridge Dr.
Continue straight onto Palm Ridge Dr.
At the traffic circle, take the 1st exit.
At the next traffic circle, take the 1st exit.
Turn right onto Natural Springs Way.
House will be on the left.
We look forward to seeing you!

How to Build a Compost Bin

March 15th, 2010

Waterford Leland, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share an informative article about how to build your own compost bin courtesy of Jennifer Stimpson, This Old House magazine.

If you love to garden, nothing feeds your plants better than compost from your very own backyard, and its priceman pouring compost into his compost bin (free!) is impossible to beat. But the pile itself isn’t exactly an eye-catching feature. Though you can buy a compost bin made from budget-friendly plastic or even chicken wire, a wood bin, typically made of rot-resistant cedar, will conceal those yard clippings and kitchen leftovers without sticking out like a sore thumb on your landscape. The gaps between the wood slats let air circulate around the pile to keep odors at bay and ensure that wastes are breaking down; removable slats, front panels, or doors make it easy to turn the pile and remove compost when it’s ready to spread. Click here and follow the directions to make a rustic little structure that will help you keep your yard thriving year-round.

Energy Guide LabelThe EnergyGuide label gives you two important pieces of information you can use to compare different brands and models when shopping for a new appliance:
Estimated energy consumption on a scale showing a range for similar models

Estimated yearly operating cost based on the national average cost of electricity

Brunswick County, NC new home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes would like to share with our readers an interesting article courtesy of EcoHome Magazine.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) eagerly awaited WaterSense label for showerheads was finalized on March 4, and manufacturers can now submit products for testing.

Like WaterSense certifications for lav faucets and toilets, qualified showerheads must meet performance specifications as well as flow rates. Units receiving the label will have a flow rate of 2 gpm or less—20 percent lower than the current federal standard of 2.5 gpm—while also meeting performance-attribute requirements for flow rate across a range of pressures, spray force, and spray coverage, which the EPA has defined based on its consumer testing.

The specifications apply to showerheads and handheld showers, but not to bodysprays. Showerheads and handhelds must be tested by an EPA-licensed certifying body to qualify for WaterSense.

A number of manufacturers are already offering showerheads that combine lower flows with improved performance, which means buyers won’t have to wait long to purchase certified fixtures. The EPA told EcoHome it expects labeled products to hit shelves as early as mid-April.

Moen, for example, is anticipating certification for its 1.75-gpm single-function Eco-Performance showerheads and Envi three-function Eco-Performance showerheads, as does American Standard for its 1.5-gpm FloWise units and Kohler for its 1.75-gpm Purist and Forte showerheads and 2.0-gpm MasterShower.

Katy Tomasulo is Deputy Editor for EcoHome. This article first appeared on

The Primrose at Landfall built in Wilmington, NC by custom home builder and remodeler Mark Johnson Custom Homes was recently recognized as one of the Most Innovative Small Residential projects in the country. The honor was presented as part of the ICF Builder Awards, an international competition designed to showcase the advantages of building with Insulated Concrete Forms, commonly called ICFs. ICFs are hollow foam blocks which are stacked and then filled with steel-reinforced concrete. The finished structure combines the strength of concrete with the insulating properties of foam, which stays in place to insulate and protect the walls. This construction method can reduce energy bills by up to 70 percent, block exterior noise, and is extremely disaster resistant. As an additional benefit, it is one of the most popular ways to “build green” costing between 5 to 10 percent more than regular frame construction.

The Primrose at Landfall was named First Runner-Up in the Small Residential division. The presentation, witnessed by hundreds of construction professionals associated with the industry, took place last month at the World of Concrete trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The ICF Builder Awards are given annually to projects that demonstrate outstanding innovation, quality, and craftsmanship in ICF construction. “The variety and scale of projects being built with ICFs is truly astounding,” said Clark Ricks, editor of ICF Builder magazine and organizer of the competition. “It’s time these outstanding projects received industry-wide recognition, and we feel privileged to take a leading role in that.”

For more information about the ICF Builder Awards, go to

Wilmington, NC Green builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes understands the importance of recycling and would like to share the following information about recycling paper, courtesy of

  • Every ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees compared to paper made from virgin materials.
  • Instead of using a new piece of paper for rough work, turn over a used copy and write on the other side.
  • Junk mail is more than an annoyance. It clogs landfills as well as your mailbox, and costs millions of trees and tax dollars every year.
  • 5.6 million tons of catalogs and other direct mail advertisements end up in U.S. landfills annually.
  • The average U.S. household receives unsolicited junk mail equal to 1.5 trees each year—That’s more than 100 million trees for all households combined.
  • 44 percent of junk mail is thrown away unopened, but only half that much junk mail (33 percent) is recycled.
  • Americans pay $370 million annually to dispose of junk mail that doesn’t get recycled.
  • On average, Americans spend 8 months opening junk mail in the course of their lives.
  • Start by registering with the Mail Preference Service of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). It won’t guarantee you a life free of junk mail, but it can help.
  • You can also go to, which can enable you to remove your name from lists that mortgage, credit card and insurance companies use to mail you offers and solicitations.
  • One option is to use the Stop the Junk Mail Kit developed by the Consumer Research Institute.
  • The website provides further guidelines for reducing junk mail and other intrusions, from unwanted e-mail (Spam) to telemarketing.
  • Pay your bills online! Eliminate your paper trail as well as the energy used to transport paper bills.
  • Go digital. If only 10 million people in the US change Mon-Fri newspapers to online, we could save almost 50,000 trees each year!
  • Manufacturing products from recycled materials requires substantially less energy and natural resources than products from virgin materials.
  • You may think that a lot of paper gets recycled, but according to the National Recycling Coalition, Americans throw away enough office paper each year to build a 13-foot-high wall of paper from New York to Seattle.
  • Do your part – recycle!

Low E Argon Windows

February 23rd, 2010

Pender County, NC home builder Mark Johnson Custom Homes is preparing to break ground on our second Insulated Concrete Form home. The owner of the home being built in Currie, NC has chosen to add Argon gas to the standard Low E windows. What’s the benefit of using Argon gas in addition to the Low E glass? Read below to find out!

Today, more than ever, the environment is a major concern. With the effects of global warming almost universally recognized, and the problems with climate change becoming gradually more apparent, the time to act is most certainly now. Add to that the weight of increasing energy bills, and you have got yourself a real incentive to save energy and the world in which we live.

By making simple decisions around the home, we can increase our insulating properties and require less energy to heat our homes, which can help the earth and our wallets. One such way is through installing low E argon windows. In this article, we will look at the benefits of low E windows, and why they should be a realistic consideration for anyone looking to update their household windows.

What does Low E Argon Mean

Regular windows lose heat through four recognizable processes; namely convection, conduction, radiation and leakages. Convection is where warmer air is cooled by exterior air and as a result moves in a downwards direction, thus creating a draft. Conduction is the loss of heat directly through the window.

Air leakage is the physical gaps within the window and its frame, which is another means by which heat is lost. Finally, radiation is the loss of heat in the form of infrared energies through the window. This process is obviously inefficient and costly, in terms of the wasted energy.

What is more, this means that we aren’t getting the most from the energy we are producing, which means we need more energy, which is subsequently more harmful to our environment. However, low E argon windows can change all that.

Low E argon windows work primarily by reflecting heat which would otherwise be wasted back into the room in question. Because it contains argon, the window is significantly better at reflecting heat rather than conducting heat, and consequently keeps the heat in, and keeps the unwanted heat out. This results in a massive energy saving, which is reflected in the first instance when the bill arrives at the end of the month.

Why Low E Argon

Low E argon windows should be a very important factor when it comes to replacing windows. One thing you may notice in the first instance is that low E argon windows are more expensive. This is due to the more technologically advanced manufacturing process, which is also more labor intensive. Having said that, it is estimated that the average household could save $240 every single year through installing low E argon windows, a massive saving over its lifetime. By making the initial investment, the windows will generate a tangible saving, year on year, whilst also going a long way towards saving our planet.

Low E argon windows are becoming increasingly popular and it is easy to see why. With society’s greener conscience, and a determination to cut down on energy bills, there has never been a better time to install low E argon windows in your home.

With that minimal initial investment, you can rest, safe in the knowledge that you are increasing your energy efficiency and doing your bit to protect our volatile environment in these crucial environmental times. Alongside household recycling, maximizing energy efficiency is one of the easiest tangible things you can do, and with such an enormous saving, it is hard to justify not making the transition.

Courtesy of: